Remember when we treated our TVs like dirty little secrets, hiding them away in armoires where they couldn’t be seen, an embarrassing fact of life that was best concealed? Who could blame us? Those hulking, unsightly boxes were a decorating buzz-kill, marring the landscape of a room with their behemoth presence, trailing a constellation of cable boxes and VCRs, twists of spaghetti-like wires going everywhere.

Today’s sleek, svelte and stylish flat-screen TVs can actually add to your home décor. The secret to decorating effectively with flat-screen TVs is to incorporate them into existing displays so they become just another element in a lovely roomscape.

Surround Your TV with Beauty

Back in the day, there was an official “TV room” in a home, and the entire floor plan of the room was arranged so you could view the TV. That’s still true in media rooms. But now that you’ll find TVs in nearly every room of the home — tucked up under a kitchen cabinet, on a vanity in the bathroom, out on the patio – they are no longer the stars of the show. Instead of being the undisputed focal point, TVs are now simply part of the fabric of the room.

I think TVs look best when they simply melt into the room, nestled in so they are indistinguishable from all the other elements in the space. In fact, they are most effective when they seem like an afterthought, just quietly included in a grouping of art or accents, part of a display but not the main attraction. One of the best ways to achieve this is to surround them with beauty.

In the photo above, the TV is accessible, but not the dominant feature in the room. The homeowner did a wonderful job of balancing the dark, hard surfaces of the TV by introducing the same color and texture through other elements in the room. Thanks to the addition of the black wooden screen behind the sofa and the black wooden coffee table in the room’s center, the TV doesn’t stand out but is just one of several similar accents. Notice how the TV is placed to one side of the chest of drawers, flanked by artwork and fronted by a tray holding interesting accents? That was done on purpose, so when the TV is off, your eye is drawn to the artwork in the background and accents in the foreground, not to the black void of the TV screen.

TV as Art

Since flat screens are so thin and small, you can decorate with them just as you might with a piece of framed art. Some people like to hang their TV over the mantel. Others like to hang theirs on a empty wall, centered over a console table or an accent shelf. But my favorite treatment is to include the TV in a lovely montage of artwork. When the TV is off, the grouping looks beautiful and complete, and the black rectangle is hardly noticeable for the beauty of the overall display. When the TV is on, the artwork seems to recede into the background.

The TV in the photo above is mounted on a small wall in a kitchen where it can be easily viewed from the kitchen island. But thanks to the groupings of artwork below it and on adjoining walls, the room doesn’t feel like a media center. The traditional artwork helps counter balance the high tech feel of the screen so the kitchen retains its quaint charm.

I treated the TV in my bedroom in a similar manner. Even though my bedroom TV isn’t mounted on the wall, I’ve worked it into a grouping of artwork. I placed the TV atop a lovely serving trolley pushed against the wall then camouflaged the screen by surrounding it with a montage of artwork. Now it melts into the mosaic instead of being a focal point in the room.

Take a Stand

Another great benefit of today’s super skinny TVs is that they can be placed on top of just about any table you like, so we are no longer tethered to those oversized TV armoires or chunky TV stands.  At Nell Hill’s we encourage our customers to turn just about any open surface into a home for their TV, like a console table, desk, étagère, buffet or dresser. The TV in my study is on top of an antique drop leaf table.

I really like the look of a small flat-screen TV on the shelf of a bookcase or hutch. If that’s an attractive option to you, set up your TV on one of the mid-range shelves then decorate the remaining shelves just as you normally would, filling in with books, artwork and accents. The TV will be inconspicuous, just another feature in the display.

Next Week … Have you ever considered adding a floor screen to your décor? I did a few years ago and now I couldn’t live without these amazing tools that are both dramatic and practical.

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13 Responses to “Hidden in Plain Sight: Decorating Around Your TV”

  1. Sharon Warren Says:

    Love these ideas. The TV has been my decorating enemy for years! Last summer my husband constructed a beautiful built-in bookcase/cabinet in our family room on the fireplace wall. Because the TV is so thin, the bookcase did not need to be very deep, which opened up our room to add a comfy chair in front of one end of the cabinet. I have filled the shelves with all sorts of decoratives items, layering them the “Nell Hill’s” way, and have had so much fun changing it out for the seasons. For my after Christmas look, I did the “hunt club” look, with silver trays, old trophies, colorful old books, and wooden boxes. When I am not watching my favorite TV show, I am looking at all my pretty displays.

  2. Carol Parrett Says:

    I also love all the ideas and pictures displayed. I really enjoyed Sharon’s decoratives ideas and would love to see pictures of her hunt club family room and the way she worked the tv in. Sounds wonderful…thank you both, for marvelous ideas, keep them coming.

  3. Doreen Luethje Says:

    I usually love all your ideas, but I have to take except to just one. The trend of
    putting the flat screen over the fireplace mantel has become my pet peeve. The fireplace firebox is already a “black hole” (when there is no fire) and putting the flat screen above the mantle adds another. The fireplace is usually a focal point in the room. I would much rather feature a beautiful piece of art or family portait than the “black hole”!

  4. Cynthia Says:

    Love “Decorating Buzz-Kill” !

  5. Lisa Says:

    I love this post! I have a tv over the mantle…I hate it, but it’s the main living area and that’s where it will be until we complete our basement reno. Thanks for the ideas on tv placement and incorporating tv’s into the decor.

  6. Bobbie Says:

    Thank you, Mary Carol. My husband and I recently downsized from a 3-story home to a single story cottage. Placement of the tv has become a greater problem than in our previous home. Lately, I have been asking myself why home decor magazines and tv shows aren’t offering tv placement advice. I am very grateful that you have come to my rescue.

  7. Patricia Says:

    I concur with Bobbie. Thank you, Mary Carol! I am so disgusted with home decor magazines showing a gorgeous living room with no TV. What I want to know is how to decorate for real life, where we have a TV.

  8. Linda Says:

    I couldn’t wait to read this post because flat screen TVs are not decorative. I don’t want to use a lovely mantle for the TV, first because it’s too high and second because it’s really ugly. I would be very interested to hear your ideas on a different track – how can I camouflage the TV until I need to use it? I’ve seen some great cabinets where the TV lifts using a motorized shelf and another where the bookcase “turns around” to expose the TV only when you need it. I’m kind of surprised these creative approaches have not caught on (ie. don’t cost an arm and a leg, or are impossible to find). Do you ever come across a line of cabinets, chests, bookcases in your travels?

  9. Martha Says:

    A friend had white bookcase/shelves across one side of den….mounted tv in front covering portions of two cases…..looked great and didn’t lose anything

  10. Mary Carol Says:

    Sometimes Linda–here at Nell Hill’s we like to think outside the (TV) box. Idea’s such as using a dining room buffet in a family room to hold or mount a TV. Maybe use a wardrobe cabinet to mount in a TV, then close it off when not in use. How about mounting a TV within a large bookcase, then arranging all your accessories around so the TV does not become the focal point, but just another accessory.

  11. Linda Says:

    Thanks, Mary Carol, for your follow-up post (1/6/12 at 10:26 p.m.).

    These are great ideas, since flat screens now come in all sizes, it should be easier to find the perfect spot for the perfect size TV. I love your blog and enjoy all the great discussions!

    Happy New Year!

  12. Elegant Living Says:

    For those who want a portrait effect over their fireplace, you can achieve this by making (or having it made) a DVD of family photographs.
    Another idea I’ve seen is to have a remote controlled tapestry mounted over the TV. Btw, we LOVE Nell Hills and MCG!

  13. Ana Says:

    Great post, but still don’t love any kind of TV around. As for large armoires, my husband and I built one off an early American version in oak and it is still a very functional (as a bookcase now instead of a TV airmore) with lots of display space for beautiful things. Let’s not become a throw away society and lets learn to re-use some of the things we had and give them beauty and function! Love your posts!

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